Inside a top fast food franchise: SONIC!

Available Territories and Growth Markets

Expansion opportunities from coast to coast and everywhere in between

SONIC®’s strong brand awareness, pent-up demand generated by the popular Two Guys advertising campaign and flexible restaurant model have set the stage for expansion across America. Historically, SONIC Drive-Ins have been heavily concentrated in the South Central and Southwestern United States. We are steadily expanding our footprint into newer regions, such as the Northeast. There are development opportunities in almost all 50 states.

“There’s a lot of geography left for us for growth in the United States. We have huge national cable exposure with our advertising now, so that in all markets we’re on television 12 months out of the year,” says CEO Cliff Hudson. “During the next 10 years we could add up to 1,000 stores. There is a lot of open space up and down the West Coast, up and down the East Coast and in Florida and California, particularly. Even in our core markets, there are still development capabilities.”

Margins are up, franchisee validation is among the best in franchising, brand awareness is at an all-time high and SONIC is poised to double the number of units. Despite 3,500 established locations, there are market opportunities available throughout the country for the right entrepreneur.

Available territories and growth markets

Alabama *C-Stores/Travel Plazas/small towns, very limited availability AlaskaAnchorageFairbanksJuneau
Arizona *C-Stores/Travel PlazasLake Havasu Arkansas *C-Stores/Travel Plazas/small townsLimited Availability
CaliforniaSan FranciscoSanta BarbaraSan Fernando ValleySanta ClaritaSimi ValleyThousand OaksChico-ReddingEurekaWeedNortheast California Colorado *C-Stores/Travel Plazas/small townsLimited Availability
ConnecticutSelect Availability DelawareStatewide Opportunities
District of ColumbiaWashington/ Hagerstown DMA FloridaJacksonvilleTallahasseeOrlandoPalm BeachTampaSt. PetersburgDade County
GeorgiaAtlantaand surrounding areas HawaiiNot Available
Idaho *C-Stores/Travel Plazas/small townsvery Limited Availability IllinoisStatewide Opportunities
IndianaIndianapolisElkhartFort WayneEvansvilleMuncieRichmondAndersonPeru IowaDes MoinesMason CityCedar RapidsQuad-CitiesAmesWaterlooDubuque
Kansas *C-Stores/Travel Plazas/small townsVery Limited Availability Kentucky *C-Stores/Travel Plazas/small townsvery Limited AvailabilityHazardPikesvillePaintsville
Louisiana *C-Stores/Travel Plazas/small townsLimited Availability MaineStatewide Opportunities
MarylandBaltimoreSalisburyAnnapolisHagerstown MassachusettsStatewide Opportunities
MichiganDetroitFlintSaginawBay CityTraverse CityCadillacLansingBattle CreekGrand RapidsKalamazoo MinnesotaStatewide Opportunities
Mississippi *C-Stores/Travel Plazas/small townsvery Limited Availability Missouri *C-Stores/Travel Plazas/small townsvery Limited AvailabilitySt. Louis
MontanaMissoulaButteBozemanHelenaBillingsStatewide Opportunities Nebraksa *C-Stores/Travel Plazas/small townsvery Limited AvailabilityOmahaLincoln
NevadaRenoLaughlin New HampshireStatewide Opportunities
New JerseyLimited Availability New MexicoNo Availability
New YorkNew York CityPlattsburghRock Island North CarolinaCharlotteGreensburgHigh PointWinston SalemGreenvilleNew BernWilmingtonRaleighGreensboro
North DakotaLimited Opportunities OhioCincinnatiClevelandToledoAkronYoungstown
Oklahoma *C-Stores/Travel Plazas/small townsVery Limited Availability OregonAlbanyPortlandEugenePendeltonBaker CityThe Dalles
PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia Area Limited Availability South CarolinaGreenvilleSpartanburgAshevilleCharleston
Rhode IslandLimited Availability Tennessee *C-Stores/Travel Plazas/small townsvery Limited Availability
South DakotaPierreMitchellAberdeen Utah *C-Stores/Travel Plazas/small townsVery Limited Availability
Texas *C-Stores/Travel Plazas/small townsVery Limited Availability VirginiaLimited Availability
VermontStatewide Opportunities West Virginiavery Limited Availability
WashingtonLimited Availability *C-Stores/Travel Plazas Wyoming very Limited Availability *C-Stores/Travel PlazasCasper
WisconsinStatewide Opportunities

*C-Stores/Travel Plazas/small towns – in areas where we are mostly sold out, there are always locations available for new or existing convenience stores, travel plazas or small towns. To find out about your specific market, please fill out a request franchise information form.

For international opportunities, please visit our international page

Fast food franchise opportunities: SONIC thrives in small markets

The social nature of the drive-in model makes it a good fit for a small market; it is an instant community gathering place. You might think of SONIC as a burger franchise, but 40 percent of our sales are ice cream or frozen drinks and desserts, and most sales happen in the after-school hours. Our diverse menu gives operators a chance to bring a wide variety of food options to customers hungry for something different. The drive-in model is also less expensive to build than a typical restaurant, making it possible to get a faster ROI.

“We have some locations that have been open for more than 30 years in markets with as few as 1,000 people,” says Drew Ritger, SONIC’s Senior Vice President of Development. “Our first location more than 60 years ago was in small Shawnee, Oklahoma, and although we work in all sizes of markets, we still find that franchisees get nice business returns in small markets today.”

Diverse franchise models expand opportunities

At SONIC, we are all about innovation and customization to optimize the consumer’s experience and maximize ROI for our franchisees. We have built on the unprecedented strength of our traditional drive-in models and adapted to growing demand for our drive-in restaurants in colder climates. In more urban footprints we offer modified designs featuring indoor dining, as well as counter service, that do well in airports and other indoor retail areas.

“When we made the switch to national media, it created pent-up demand so that in new markets people are already familiar with us. When franchisees open a new unit, we literally have lines of people waiting to try us out,” says Vice President of Development and Real Estate Johnny Jones.

Corporate team optimizes site selection

SONIC invests heavily in its franchisees, working alongside them during the site selection process to help them locate an optimum area. SONIC is a mature brand that has traditionally been placed in warmer-weather markets, but the inside-dining model allows us to expand our top fast food franchise to where it’s colder.

“At SONIC, within the real estate and development group, we have eight real estate professionals with more than 100 years of elite selection and demographic analysis experience,” Johnny says. “They are all skilled in contract negotiation and site selection and work as liaisons with real estate agents.”

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